Immune system - Activating our protective shield
When temperatures drop, wind and rain settle in, our immune system is more active in the fight against possible external agents that cause diseases, such as the flu or colds.
Currently, there is an increase in the search for solutions that help strengthen our immune system.
To strengthen the immune system the following behaviours should be considered:
Regular physical activity.
To promote good health and the correct functioning of our immune system it is essential to have a balanced and diversified diet that includes the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that we need.
Some nutrients, vitamins and minerals are directly involved in the normal functioning of our immune system:
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) - found in fruit (such as kiwi, orange, strawberries, pineapple, lemon), tomatoes and vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, brussels sprouts);
Vitamin D - nvolved in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. It can be found in salmon, eggs, butter, but essentially this vitamin is acquired from sun exposure.
Vitamin E - antioxidant that improves the response of the immune system. It can be found in vegetable oils (such as soybean oil, sunflower oil, olive oil), almonds, walnuts, and wheat germ;
Vitamin B complex - trengthens the immune system and it can be acquired through fish, meat, eggs, milk, and dairy products.
Selenium - mineral with antioxidant action, it works in combination with vitamin E. It can be found in mushrooms, broccoli, onion, and garlic;
Zinc - it can be found in meat, oysters, almonds, peanuts, milk, and dairy products, as well as in grains, beans, and lentils.
The quality and amount of sleep are important factors that have an impact on our health.
Getting a proper night's sleep is essential for having good physical and mental performance. While we sleep our body produces immune system cells (especially, T cells) that fight against infections and help reduce the inflammatory processes in autoimmune diseases.
So, when you do not sleep well, or enough, your body produces pro-inflammatory cells which promote inflammation and reduce your body’s defences.
Sleep deprivation leads to a decrease in the immune system's response to vaccines and increases the susceptibility to infectious diseases.
Regular physical activity
Physical activity is important to maintain a good health, including the proper functioning of the immune system.
A regular practice of moderate intensity promotes the production of anti-inflammatory cells, meaning cells that fight against inflammation. Thus, regular physical exercise can lead to a reduced risk of contracting chronic non-communicable diseases, as well as infectious viral or bacterial diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends, for adults aged between 18 and 64, 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. For children and adolescents (between 5 and 17 years old), 60 minutes of physical activity per day is recommended.
Food supplements to improve the immune system
There are several components of food supplements that strengthen the immune system. There has been an increase in the supplementation demand, and it can be an option when, for various reasons, it is not possible to obtain all the vitamins and minerals the body needs.
Some of them are:
Vitamin C - available in tablets, effervescent tablets, and sachets;
Echinacea - Contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. Helps relieve sore throat. It should not be used for more than 8 weeks;
Royal jelly - strengthens the immune system. Available in ampoules, tablets, and syrup;
Propolis - helps to relieve cough and cold symptoms. Available in the form of syrup, spray, or tablets. In patients with asthma, its use is not recommended;
Thyme - With a calming effect on the throat, pharynx, and vocal cords, it promotes the release of sputum and relieves dry cough. The oil is not recommended for children and adolescents. It exists in the form of lozenges, throat spray and syrup.
Remember that food supplements should not be considered as substitutes for a balanced and diversified diet.
Farmácia Distribuição Magazine
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